Department of Health creates ‘lo-fi’ version of service assessment

Written by Rebecca Hill on 1 November 2016 in News
News

The digital strategy team at the Department of Health has revealed it is piloting a new, “leaner” approach to assessing its digital services, which focuses on just three core questions.

The Department of Health's digital team is working on a leaner service assessment - Photo credit: Flickr, Oliver Tack 

The DH questions ask: how the service meets user needs; whether it is safe and secure; and if the service can be quickly improved.This is a big reduction from the 18 points set out in the digital services standard first established by the Government Digital Service to ensure digital services are properly able to meet user needs.

Although they cover the same broad areas as addressed in the 18 points, they are less specific, and also likely to be seen as being less prescriptive and open to wider interpretation.

For instance, the digital service standard includes requirements for a multidisciplinary team, to make all new source code open and to collect performance data, which will not be directly ticked off on the DH list.

However, in a blogpost about the new approach, the digital teams’ Hong Nyugen said that the team “still value the 18 points in the service standard and will continue to reference them for live assessments”.


Related content

MoJ updates ‘painful’ service standard assessment process
GDS says service assurance discovery will report soon


The change has come about after an evaluation of the department-led service assessments for health, which it has been carrying out for around a year.

In that time, it ran four assessments, which Nyugen said equated to 20 hours of assessment time for service teams and assessors and 10,000 words in follow-up reports, as well as numerous briefings, sign-off processes and coordination by the five digital specialists at DH.

The new assessment process it developed also aims to encourage more conversation within teams by asking them to frame their work as a show and tell based on the three questions, which is followed by a retrospective on the timeline of their development.

Nyugen said that the team will still set service assessments as a condition in spend control approvals and reports will be attached to that approval.

The trial, which was carried out with the approval of GDS, involved the National Institute for Health and Social Care digital team and a user researcher from the Co-op’s digital team.

Nyugen said that the leaner format allowed them to run two assessments in one day and that both the service team and GDS “loved the retrospective format, which encouraged an honest and open discussion on how the project went”.

Feedback on the pilot indicated that the digital team needed to be more clear about the structure and timing of the assessment and whether it might have worked better with a team the DH specialists were more familiar with.

However, Nyugen said that the DH digital services team “felt that the outcome would still have been the same had we run the full 4-hour assessment”.

The team will publish a report based on the assessment to share the approach with others.

DH is not the only department trialling a new approach to service assessment – the Ministry of Justice has revealed that it was making changes to the process, which it described as “painful”.

And GDS itself has acknowledged there could be improvements, and its own new assessment approach – which the DH digital team is observing – is now in its alpha phase.

The new GDS leader Kevin Cunnington has said that GDS ir wants to improve collaboration with departments, and that if they are agreed to be going in the right direction, GDS is “prepared to be a lot more collaborative about controls”.

Share this page

Tags

CONTRIBUTIONS FROM READERS

Please login to post a comment or register for a free account.

Related Articles

Can the GDS innovation strategy deliver a lasting legacy for government?
14 August 2019

Government's new Innovation Strategy set out ambitious proposals to update processes, eliminate ageing kit, and embrace emerging technologies. PublicTechnology caught up with...

One in four Scots unwilling to use digital means for health consultations
6 September 2019

Although most Scottish citizens believe IoT and smart technology will improve healthcare delivery, many do not want to use bots, conferencing, or web chat

Tech firms should join a coalition of the willing to support interoperability for police IT
30 August 2019

Jessica Russell of techUK believes increased collaboration between the emergency services and technology partners could deliver improved public-safety outcomes

Start-ups can show the way to public sector transformation
27 August 2019

Hanna Johnson of tech accelerator Public believes that transforming citizen services will require government to adopt new ways of buying and using technology

Related Sponsored Articles

Digital Transformation: Connecting and protecting with perfect predictability
10 September 2019

How can you stay ahead in the fast-paced world of digital technology? BT describes how it's a matter of focus... 

How to stay ahead of a changing threat landscape
3 September 2019

The security threat landscape is confusing and changing rapidly – there’s so much out there, how do you understand where the true risks are? BT offers insight from their own experience

The cyber security skills challenge: Hiring for tomorrow
27 August 2019

Organisations must alter their approach to cyber security recruitment in order to combat the global shortage of security professionals, writes BT 

Augmented Intelligence: digital transformation with humans in the loop
20 August 2019

BT reviews an event looking at how man and machine are working together to drive digital transformation